Friday market close: Retail sales data fails to lift Footsie

Trading screens in London. Picture: AFP/Getty Images

Trading screens in London. Picture: AFP/Getty Images

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The Footsie struggled to find direction ending the day relatively flat after worse than expected retail sales data.

It closed down 3.99 points at 7,114.55 after the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that retail sales fell by 1.4 per cent over the first quarter - the worst fall in seven years - and dropped 1.8 per cent on the month to March.

The pound also fell amd Michael Hewson, chief market analyst for CMC Markets UK, said: “It’s been a disappointing end to a very positive week for the pound after March retail sales slid 1.8 per cent, much more than expected rounding off a disappointing quarter for the UK consumer.”

Experts are now considering whether economic growth for the quarter will be weaker than expected.

“With Q1 (gross domestic product) coming up next week, this consumer data would suggest that the services sector that has helped drive the economy since the Brexit vote could well temper expectations around next week’s numbers,” Hewson added.

Sports Direct shares fell 7p to 308p amid news that the company has seized control of US retailers Bob’s Stores and Eastern Mountain Sports in a debt deal.

Shares in Reckitt Benckiser dropped 60p to 7,215p after reporting that like-for-like sales growth flatlined in the first three months of the year.Sky shares fell 4.5p to 979.5p as the Government extended its deadline to review 21st Century Fox’s £11.7 billion takeover bid for Sky by more than a month to June 20 in light of the looming general election.

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